No one would ever know exactly when he first would come into town and no one knew just when he left. Sometimes he would drift in as if riding the evening breeze, shadows falling, leaves rustling, children skipping across the street. He would walk the streets watching everybody hurrying home, but he had no where to hurry because he had no home. Sometimes he would arrive when the morning sun was just making the dew sparkle, when the marketplaces fill up, and children run off to school. But no matter how or when he came, there he would be walking in the streets singing in a sweet voice: “Anyone who has a story to tell, that you’ve never told before – you can tell me.”
Up and down the alleyways and main roads he would walk singing his refrain: “If there is anyone who needs to tell their story now’s your chance.”
In every different place he went the initial reactions would be the same. Some people would ignore him, and some people would snicker either in aloofness or embarrassment. Occasionally children chased him, throwing little stones, or sometimes they would crowd around to see who the strange man was. And they all thought that would be the end of it; but it wasn’t, for there he would be the next day calling in an even more haunting voice: “anyone who has a story that needs telling, I’ll listen.”
In parks and factories, schools and shops, he would repeat his offer until everybody had heard his unusual song. Then slowly but surely the same thing would happen. People began stopping him in the back alleyways or late at night when street lamps throw long shadows, telling their stories and pouring out their hearts. People handed him notes, whispered in his ear, confessions written in tears, a walk along a beach at moonrise. Each person’s story was different; tales of hidden romance, concealed dreams, forgotten ideals, or nagging guilts. Future plans were discussed and past mistakes reviewed. Each one of them revealed that part of themselves that most needed remembering or forgetting, that part of the soul that lay unfulfilled or frustrated, the spark that had yet to be revealed.
Not everyone would actually talk to him. Sometimes they would go home and without even knowing it tell their loved ones what had once been hidden and unrevealed. Others who could not express their inner most being in words found in the silence of prayer, the candle that lights up the way. And others whose light had gone out long ago hid themselves even deeper and heard nothing at all. And so he would wait until in someway everybody heard and reacted to his call and then he’d be on his way. From town to town, city to city, country to county, he would repeat his calling, lifting up his song and remembering every story and secret told to him.
One time when he was travelling through a forest, night came upon him so quickly that he hardly had time to prepare a place to sleep. With the last rays of light fading, he smoothed out a place to put his belongings and gathered enough twigs to make a small fire. Except for the gentle hum of the wind blowing through the trees all was quiet. As he warmed his hands near the tiny flames he felt a strange aloneness, the kind of stillness that can lead to fear or tranquility. Singing a familiar tune he lay down and was soon asleep.
And he dreamed a dream. A man with a face exactly like his came to him and stared right into his eyes. Whether it was an instant or an eternity who could say, but then the man said to him: “Do you have any stories that you’ve never shared and need to be told? You can tell me.” Before he had a moment to think, he awoke. The question ran through his head over and over, like the sound of waves crashing along the shore. “Do I have stories? I have thousands, even millions!” but he knew this was not what was meant. As he lay on his back staring above at the enormous trees whose leaves reflected the shimmering sun, he thought of his life and the secret that lay within.
And so his journey and calling continued like an endless dream. Everywhere he went the same thing would happen; at first he was the stranger, looked upon in disbelief and suspicion, and in the end people with heavy hearts and inspired tales would come and place their stories in front of the mirror of his heart. Each story he held to be a precious gem, a unique experience to which he’d given his complete attention. Even those stories that he actually did not hear, but only planted the seed made their way into his collection.
And then he had another dream. A shining white form, nebulous and magnetic, hovered over him as he lay on his back, quietly mesmerized. All was still and dark, with only light emanating from the mysterious being. Then he heard a voice from above: “Do you have any stories that have never been told, I’ll listen.”
He began to think very deeply, looking into the wellsprings of his being, for he knew there was a story hidden within, but instead he uncovered a question, at once profound and disturbing. But the question defied words and could not be grasped, and as he struggled to contain it, he awoke. All that day he tried to return to that place of discovery, but was left empty handed, a stranger in his own land. For many days he entered no cities and talked to no one, preferring to stay alone with no outer distractions; waiting…to dream again.
Soon another dream came to him through the doorway of night. This time he saw no face and perceived no form, but heard a simple voice saying, “Are you almost done?”
“With what?” he said.
“With gathering all the stories.”
“I don’t know” he replied.
“Write them down and you’ll see.”
So that day he began to write down all the stories he had been told, or collected, or dreamed, or initiated. He hardly knew where to start so he decided to start at the beginning. As he began to compile and catalog the stories, connections he had never noticed before quickly caught his eye, attaching themselves in the most fascinating of ways. Stories from different parts of the world completed and answered each other. Seemingly complete tales became undone, and factors of time extended themselves into the distant future and primordial past. One person’s hope became another’s nightmare, what had appeared to be a secret was actually shared by multitudes. Dreams turned into realities, strangers meeting between the lines. Families evolved into nations, individuals came and went in a constant flow, disasters turned into blessings, fortunes rising and falling in a secret rhythm. Until it seemed that every story had found its own place and time, totally independent and yet completely entwined in one long and unfolding revelation. When it appeared that he had finished writing it all down and all was in order, he truly felt that perhaps the journey was in fact drawing to an end.
Then he dreamed one more time. He found himself standing alone in the middle of an enormous palace room. The ceilings were very high and the chamber was magnificently decorated. Everywhere was an etheric atmosphere caused by revolving reflecting lights. He felt quite alone and confused as to where he was, so he hid himself in the corner and waited to see what would happen. Then he heard footsteps coming across the room but there was no one walking. The steps echoed mysteriously and continued right past him, as if he wasn’t there at all. In excitement and trepidation he listened as the footsteps stopped in front of a small room that he had not noticed before. A voice called into the room: “Do you have a story that needs to be told?” A small voice from within the room answered: “I do, but I’m waiting for you!” “For me? No need to wait, in fact I was waiting for you!”
A great silence suddenly filled the palace, so much so that time seemed to stop altogether. It was almost as if an empty space had been created, which in turn spread through out the whole universe. His heart beat wildly but he heard nothing… Until a voice rang out; “Do you think it’s almost finished yet?”
“Soon, very soon” another mysterious voice echoed from deep within… “The last of the stories are about to be told, and then we’ll be ready to begin.”
If there is anyone who has a story that has never been told, now is your time.